“I will make sure that five Congress MLAs will quit their party in 24 hours, if I make up my mind about it and if the BJP leadership says yes to it,’’ Irrigation Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi said in Belagavi on Sunday.
“I have already spoken to the biggest Congress leaders regarding this. They are all ready to join the BJP. If you know who they are, you will be surprised,’’ he said. He was speaking at a rally to felicitate BJP members who have won gram panchayat seats.
This came in response to rumours that he was considering going back to the Congress.
“It is true that I speak to Siddaramaiah, Congress leader and former Chief Minister, twice a day. That is because I consider him my leader even today. I have very good personal relations with him. But that does not mean I am going to the Congress. I will bring more Congress leaders into the BJP, rather than going back to it,” he said.
“Earlier, I led a team of 17 Congress MLAs into the BJP to make sure that the BJP came to power in Karnataka. I still hold that clout. I can get the top five leaders of the Congress to resign. I can also get such leaders into the BJP,” he said.
He criticised Congress MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar for her complaints that he was concentrating on her constituency of Belagavi Rural.
“Why is she complaining about our movement in Belagavi Rural seat? This is what she was doing when Sanjay Patil was the MLA and I was the district in-charge Minister. I know it for sure as she would ride with me in my car in those days,” he said.